TasWater takeover not ideal, says Infrastructure Australia report

An Infrastructure Australia report claims an average residential water bill could rise to $2500 in two decades’ time; double what is paid now.

Infrastructure Australia chief executive Philip Davies said on Friday the rise signals a need for governance and regulatory reform in the urban water sector.

The research paper recommends the establishment of an independent national reform body and use of incentive payments to drive reform.

It also recommends movement towards a national regulator and privatisation of urban water assets.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the paper supported the government’s plan to seize control of TasWater from the state’s councils.

“Infrastructure Australia report into water and sewerage infrastructure which clearly shows that water and sewerage bills could double without action,” he said.

“It’s a recipe for disaster for thousands of households around Tasmania.”

The report, however, makes a position against a state government takeover as it “would see the state shift further from best practice, with increased powers for political interference”.

TasWater chairman Miles Hampton said the report made clear that the best model was for the government to regulate, rather than own, water utilities.

Labor finance spokesman Scott Bacon said the report was a “shocker” for the government as it pursued its takeover plan.

“Labor has been arguing that to tackle the challenges facing TasWater, all three levels of government need to work together in Tasmania’s best interests,” he said.